Literature on Scrum problems or challenges concerning the goal setting

Last post 02:20 pm April 2, 2021
by Daniel Wilhite
4 replies
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11:45 am April 1, 2021

Ladies and gentlemen,

I was recently honored to conduct a research on the topic of the Product Goal introduction to the new Scrum Guide 2020. While the well-known Product Vision happens to be more of a compelling, challenging and engaging thing, the Product Goal shall represent a functionally oriented step towards this particular vision. One of the main goals of my research is to find out, why the Product Goal was necessary in the first place. There are certain points of criticism, which imply the need for an objective like this:

  • Goals which don't foster collaboration, causing the Scrum team members to split up and work in different directions
  • Feature-oriented development with pointless goals (delivering as much features as possible instead of delivering quality)
  • Unnecessary Backlog items
  • Lack of stakeholder and team commitment

Due to the Product Goal only being five months old, there is no literature about the reasons and potentials of introducing it to the Scrum environment. That's why my outcoming paper will rely on other agile methods facing the same problems, which can be fixed by following a similar approach of making the project objective general, transparent and pushing it to a higher level of collaboration and commitment. I would welcome any papers or books, which emphasize the problems mentioned above or/and show that this kind of a solution is capable of making changes to the state of practicing agile development methods.

Thank you in advance and have a good day!

10:13 pm April 1, 2021

a higher level of collaboration and commitment. 

I'd suggest that's the essential point: a Product Goal isn't just a "functionally oriented step", it's a commitment. You could try looking for articles and papers on Commitment Based Management, which is a thing.

10:45 pm April 1, 2021

Thank you very much for the hint!

You wrote a comment once: 

The Product Goal is included in the Scrum Guide, while the Product Vision isn't.

I just can rely on things I learned during my studies, but e.g. for me it is obvious to invest a good amount of time into defining the objective, making it clear and transparent for all the stakeholders and keeping an eye on it while managing the project. It appears to me as a significant part of a project, as even common development or working approaches often seem to get lost between all the changes happening. That's why it isn't really clear to me, why the Product Vision haven't been a part of it the whole time. After checking your profile, I noticed that you were in that particular boat the whole time! Could you give me a heads up on what objective was relevant this whole time and how (why) it became a part of Scrum? I think, that the main voice of upgrading Scrum came from the people actually using it. I would be happy to see the development, because I got a feeling that setting this kind of objective had to be present the whole time, but maybe unspoken in terms of Scrum. 

01:34 pm April 2, 2021

The 2020 revision of the Scrum Guide did not change Scrum; it tightened the language and clarified a few things. The Product Goal was made explicit as a Scrum Team commitment. This improves on a product vision that might exist largely in a Product Owner's head, and from which an agreed joint commitment must then be communicated and parsed.

02:20 pm April 2, 2021

That's why it isn't really clear to me, why the Product Vision haven't been a part of it the whole time.

A Product Vision and Product Goal is a very common practice in Product Management. I have worked with them both for a long time, whether practicing agile or waterfall.  Remember that Scrum is a framework.  It does not dictate the processes that you use.  Just because the Product Goal has never been mentioned does not mean it shouldn't be used. 

In my opinion, your research should include Product Management practices without considering Scrum.  There are a lot of those practices that are useful and that can be useful to Scrum Teams.  I feel that the decision to include the Product Goal in the 2020 revision wasn't because it never existed but because it helped to clarify commitments that the Scrum Team can make to focus their efforts.